Some lessons are easy to learn. Others need to be taught over and over and over again. Others still can never truly be learned, only practiced.
Being present is a practice that defies completion. I so often catch myself engaging in distraction and displacement, especially living here. I think about the past…
perfect moments preserved in time as untouchable, intangible things
moments i remember feeling free and unburdened
moments of exquisite beauty, ecstasy, or joy
moments unblemished by annoyance, frustration, or anger, a dull stone polished to a shine, cleansed of its impurities
i think about these moments and i long to return to them or to find them again somewhere else…
I think about the future…
if only i could change something about myself, about my life
if only i could have that thing
if only i could be in that place instead of this one
if only i could be with that person
if only i could do that instead of this
…then i would be happy
and yet when that eventually becomes this the hollowness remains, the desire for that is so quickly replenished…
It’s so easy to forget that all of those “perfect” moments only ever occurred in the present. While they were happening they didn’t occur in some idealized past or some yearned-for future. They occurred only in the now, until this became that and impermanence reminded us once again of its inevitable truth.
One day, among the buzzing chaos of the city, amidst the swirling eddies of distractions and temptations, I found myself practicing being present in my body through the meeting of breath and movement, the combination of effort and ease, the bringing together of opposites. As I moved through the last asanas and into the final resting pose of every yoga practice I lost myself in samadhi, the abiding mind. It was only then as I lay there basking in the stillness that comes after careful exertion that I realized;
this moment is perfect. all of those moments from the past that i cling to and escape into and all of those potential moments in the future i fantasize and dream about reaching are right here with me in this moment…
The end of suffering doesn’t exist. There is no time that will come when effusive joy, happiness, and contentment are all that is left for me. If some temporary end of suffering does exist, it is not in the future or the past, it is now.
All I can really do is try to be open to learning this lesson each time it comes. All I can really do is continue to practice that which can never be achieved, and to allow those perfect moments to come and to let them go when they are gone.